For nearly 50 years the Court Tavern has been a New Brunswick fixture. Since the early 1980s it also has been a vital part of the state's rock scene, hosting up-and-coming bands such as the Smithereens, which later returned the favor by donating one of its platinum albums to the small club.
But the slow economy following a re-financing effort a couple of years ago bought the owners, Bobby and Eileen Albert, to the brink of closure, with a 4 p.m. deadline today to pay $20,000 in back taxes and city fees or face foreclosure.
In the pre-dawn hours [on December 15th], Eileen Albert posted messages on the club's Facebook and MySpace Web pages, the Alberts discovered how their club had touched people across the country, and beyond.
The first call came in at about 2 a.m. from a former employee the Alberts hadn't seen in 15 years, offering to give $500 to $1,000.
"It's been like wildfire," said Eileen Albert. "It's been crazy. There's 20 messages on the phone now."
Former customers and employees from as far away as Washington state called to help. A member of a band that had played at the club years ago called from London, where he heard of the financial problems.
By 12:30 p.m. Bobby Albert found a line of more than 15 people outside the door with envelopes of money and checks.
Then came a longtime family friend, who walked in and handed over a $20,000 check. [NJ.com]